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How to take screenshots and record your screen on Mac

Screenshots work differently on a Mac than on Windows, but don't worry, it's still really easy.
By
July 22, 2022

Newer Mac users likely run into the problem of how to take screenshots on a Mac pretty early on. Taking screenshots in Windows versus on Mac is a little bit different. Plus, macOS doesn’t put the screenshot in the same spot as Windows does. So, it’s a new system to learn. Here’s how to take screenshots on a Mac and where to find those screenshots after you take them.

Read more: How to find and delete duplicate files on a Mac or Windows PC

QUICK ANSWER

To take a full screenshot, press and hold Command+Shift+5. On the toolbar, select from the screenshot or screen record options. Once done, the screenshot or recording should appear on your desktop after a few seconds.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS


How to take a screenshot and record your screen on macOS

Capture Screenshot macOS
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

There are actually several different ways to take a screenshot. However, macOS has a screenshot tool that lets you do things with more granularity, and it’s the method we recommend using. We’ll describe how to do that below.

  • Press Command+Shift+5 to open the screenshot toolbar.
  • The toolbar has six options on it. From left to right, they are Capture Entire Screen, Capture Selected Window, Capture Selected Portion, Record Entire Screen, Record Selected Window, and Options.
  • Click on the option you want and, if it’s a selected window or portion option, select the window or portion you want to screenshot or record.
  • Once done, the screenshot will appear in the bottom right corner, — if you don’t touch it, it will eventually save to your desktop.
  • Pro tip — Recording your screen and taking a screenshot both take place from the same toolbar. If you learn how to do one, you automatically learn how to do the other. You can also open QuickTime, click File, and choose New Screen Recording if you want to go that route.

More advanced screenshot and screen recording tools

Record Entire Screen macOS
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Now that you know the basics, let’s briefly go over what each option from the prior tutorial actually does and how each one works.

  • Capture Entire Screen — As it states, it’ll capture the entire screen. To use it, click the button on the toolbar and then click the Capture button to engage.
  • Capture Selected Window — This option only takes a screen capture of the window you select. To use it, tap the button and then the window you want to screenshot. It should automatically take the screenshot once you select the window.
  • Capture Selected Portion — This option creates a resizable box. Simply resize the box as needed and click the Capture button to take a screenshot.
  • Record Entire Screen — This records your entire screen. Tap the Record button to start a recording. The stop button is in the upper right corner on your taskbar. Click it when you’re done recording.
  • Record Selected Portion — This option creates a resizable box just like the screenshot version. When you hit Record, it’ll only record stuff inside of the resizable box. The stop recording button is in the same spot as it is for recording the whole screen.
  • Options — Options is your settings menu. The settings give you the option to change where screenshots and recordings are saved. In addition, there’s a timer function, a microphone function if you have a mic, and some other smaller features.

You should now have all of the knowledge you need to take screenshots or screen recordings on your Mac.


Where to find screenshots and screen recordings on macOS

Screenshot options macOS
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Screenshots and screen recordings save to your desktop by default. However, you can change where your screenshots save.

  • Open the screenshot tool by pressing Command+Shift+5.
  • Click the Options button to open a little menu. You can find the save location options at the top of the little menu.
  • The menu lets you save to Desktop, Documents, Mail, Messages, and QuickTime Player by default. Click one of those if you want to save your screenshots there.
  • If you click the last option, Other Location, a Finder window opens up.
  • Select the folder you want to use, and click the Choose button.
  • Now, your screenshots and screen recordings will save where you specified.

Tips, tricks, and other useful shortcuts

Luckily, Apple kept things simple with screenshots and screen recordings. Most of the options are labeled clearly and are easy to find. However, there are some tips and tricks we think you’ll find useful.

Tips and tricks

Screenshot tips and tricks
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
  • You can hit ESC to leave the screenshot toolbar menu at any point. It’s easier than hitting the little x button.
  • Once you finish a recording or screenshot, a preview appears in the bottom right. Right-click (or double-click on a Macbook) to bring up more options. You can select new save locations, delete the screenshot or recording immediately, and even edit the screenshot by clicking Markup.
  • You can also click and drag the bottom-right preview directly into an app window to save it or share it there. As a consequence, it won’t save in your default location. So, for example, if you take a screenshot and drag the preview into your Pictures folder, it will no longer save on your desktop.
  • Screenshots save natively as PNG files. You can change it to JPG by opening a Terminal window, and typing defaults write com.apple.screencapture type JPG, then hitting return (enter).
  • Some third-party apps, such as CleanShot X, Skitch, Snagit, Shottr, Lightshot, and Monosnap can add additional utility if you need even more hardcore screenshots.
  • You can take a screenshot without your keyboard. Open Finder, tap the Go option at the top of the screen, and select Applications. Open the Utilities folder, and finally, open the Screenshot function. From there, it’s the same toolbar you get when you press Command+Shift+5.

Advanced shortcuts

Advanced screenshot and recording tools macOS
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Here is a list of all the various ways you can take a screenshot or screen recording in macOS.

  • Command+Shift+3 — Takes a screenshot of the entire screen.
  • Command+Shift+4 — Turns your mouse into a crosshair. Click and drag to create a box. While holding the click, you can also click and hold the spacebar to move the box horizontally or vertically. Releasing the click takes a screenshot of whatever is in the box. Hit the ESC key to cancel the screenshot.
  • Command+Shift+4+Spacebar — This lets you capture a screenshot of a specific window. Your mouse icon will turn into a camera icon, and the thing you’re screenshotting will glow blue. Click the mouse button to capture a screenshot.
  • Command+Shift+6 — Take a screenshot of the Touch Bar. This one is only available on Macbooks with the Touch Bar, obviously.
  • Command+Shift+Control+3 — This saves the screenshot to your clipboard where you can paste it anywhere where you can paste an image.
  • Command+Shift+Control+4 — This does the same thing as the 3-key version, but with the resizable box as described above.

Up next: How to use AirDrop to tarnsfer files on iOS and macOS


FAQ

There are only three places a screenshot can go unless you moved it manually. Check your trash, your default save location, and any open windows to see if you dragged it in there.

Unfortunately, macOS doesn’t have a native scrolling screenshot feature as of Monterey 12.4. There are some third-party tools, though, like Snapito for web pages. CleanShot X has the functionality as well. Surf around. There are other options.

Your screenshots are the same resolution as your screen. There isn’t much you can do about that.

Yes. After taking a screenshot, right-click or double-click the preview and select the Markup option.